Whole new ball game
Among hundreds of athletes playing in the 2013 World Dwarf Games, Jeffrey Astrein stood out as the only MSU student playing on the field.
“Not everyone gets to play in these stadiums,” Astrein said. “The fact that I played there, I was honored to play (in) this.”
Astrein is a graduate student whose height was affected due to his childhood cancer treatment. Growing up, he never had the chance to be with people of similar height, let alone playing sports. He was particularly excited when he learned about the world games, and jumped on the opportunity to play basketball and volleyball.
“I have never been around with so many dwarfs and short people before,” he said. “(There) was really a culture behind it that I haven’t really been able to explore.”
Paula Saatkamp, of Sandoval, Ill., coached basketball for Astrein’s eight-person team. While her team could not advance further, she said that it was a good experience overall.
“It is nice to be able to be competitive without special rules, or feeling like, they are going to score on me here,” she said. “It’s nice they could go and socialize, and they felt like they belong. I think that’s a lot of it,” Saatkamp said.
“The first thing that the team said was ‘We all had a good time. We all learned a bunch, had a lot of fun getting to know each other,’” she said.
“The fact that we were able to put ourselves together and really play as a team, was impressive,” Astrein said. “And most importantly, we all had fun.”